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Keillor writes: "I'm an old liberal and I do think that America has been spared a great deal of trouble by the fact that so much hostility that might go into terrorism is expended instead on competitive sports."

Garrison Keillor. (photo: MPR)
Garrison Keillor. (photo: MPR)

The World Is Not My Home but I Am Here

By Garrison Keillor, Garrison Keillor's Website

20 August 21


y favorite word today is “unsubscribe” and I’ve been online clicking it on dozens of emails asking for my cash contributions to their battle in behalf of the good, the true, and the beautiful, which one wants to support, but once you do, your name is transmitted to other righteous causes and now I’m getting appeals from folks running for city council in Omaha and a group petitioning Congress to outlaw the internal combustion engine, the chance of which is less than slight, so I unsubscribe and instead I gave to a soup kitchen raising money for school supplies for indigent kids: how could I say no? A nice red book bag, notebooks, pencils, a sharpener, a ruler, the same stuff I treasured when I started school.

I loved school. I come from fundamentalist people and every year they asked that I be excused from square-dancing in gym class so that I would not be tempted by carnal pleasure, but still they didn’t object to my reading secular literature such as Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. They were gentle people, not like the bearded men with machine guns riding through the streets of Kabul, or the American mujahideen sacking the Capitol in January or Mr. Roseberry in his black pickup parked in front of the Library of Congress Thursday, claiming to have explosives enough to destroy whole city blocks. Finally he had to pee and he surrendered.

Republicans are in control of provincial capitals in Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, but here in Manhattan, we feel far away from the fundamentalists. We have plenty of Orthodox Jews on the Upper West Side but they don’t come into St. Michael’s and try to make Episcopal women wear head coverings. The buses run on Saturdays. Linguini in clam sauce is available in many restaurants. But the collapse of Kabul sends a clear message: liberal values lack the dramatic emotional appeal of faith-based cruelty. Liberalism is weak tea when up against men with rifles who operate on divine guidance. Liberalism is basically neighborliness and it lacks the satisfactions of ferocity.

I’m an old liberal and I do think that America has been spared a great deal of trouble by the fact that so much hostility that might go into terrorism is expended instead on competitive sports. Christians aren’t influenced by the Sunday sermon so much as by the NFL game afterward, the sacking of the quarterback, repeated in slo-mo, his arm up to pass and three behemoths hit him amidships and the helmet flies off and he crumples to the turf, a broken man: thus our lust for violence is sated. The Yankees beat the Red Sox in three straight games this week and thereby satisfied the hormonal urges of a half-million men who otherwise might drive down Amsterdam Avenue in pickups, waving guns, attacking the Red Cross and Red Lobster, running down people displaying red articles of clothing, yelling at people to show their underwear and anyone wearing red gets depantsed. No, it was very civil.

The American heartland was once a hotbed of religious intolerance and then Jim Naismith invented basketball and now in Kansas and Iowa and all through mid-America it has taken the place of Protestantism. If the American military had spent twenty years and billions of dollars building ice arenas in Afghanistan and teaching Afghans to skate and play hockey, the outcome would’ve been quite different. Women’s hockey is a revelation. We old fundies grow up seeing women as Sunday school teachers and mommies and caregivers and then you go see them in helmets and shoulder pads, carrying sticks, and you see that they do not shy away from belting each other hard enough to rattle their molars.

Women are capable of ferocity and once they’ve tasted the pleasures of aggression they do not lie down and submit to bullying. I look at the beards in burnooses holding rifles and ammo belts and I doubt that the Taliban can put the cap back on the bottle now that it’s been opened. The Middle Ages is a long long time ago. While the beards were holed up in the mountains for twenty years, many of those women were studying engineering, learning how to make the wheels turn and the power flow. Some women became ophthalmologists. You need vision, men. Let them help you. your social media marketing partner
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